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Non Disclosure in Blogging is not OK

Blog disclosure

There’s a feeling of unease that’s descended over UK bloggers in the last few weeks. Talk of blog disclosure, non-disclosure, do follow links, no follow links and loss of Page Rank as Google clamps down on people we know (by name) for breaching their clear terms and conditions.

It’s like the Twilight Zone blogger special as unscrupulous SEO agencies blatantly lie in any and every which way they can to score that undisclosed, paid follow link –  but enough is enough.

Bloggers – and I mean all bloggers need to wake up and start towing the line because non disclosure is not only unethical, it’s also unlawful.

Despite what your average friendly ‘link building’ operative may have told you, disclosure is really pretty straightforward. It goes like this…

If you have been paid (in money, vouchers, air miles, chocolate, fluffy kittens or product of any kind) to write a post, or add a link to an old post then you have a legal obligation to declare that relationship in the body of the post.

The reason you have to declare that relationship is so that you don’t unduly influence the ‘average consumer’ into making a purchase that they wouldn’t have done without reading your post. So marking a post, brought to you by…, in conjunction with, guest post or any other ‘beat around the bush’ term just isn’t ok. Neither is adding a graphic image to the end of your post emblazoned with the scary S word that you are too afraid to type. Many readers have images turned off if they are reading via mobile device and again, it’s another tactic to try to sneak under the radar.

At the end of the day, a sponsored post is a sponsored post. END OF.

If you haven’t already familiarised yourself with the Internet Advertising Bureau UK’s Guidelines on the Payment for Editorial Content to Promote Brands within Social Media you need to, NOW.

Non disclosure is a breach of  the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act 2008, it’s also unethical and prevalent amongst many blogger communities.

UPDATE : The ASA clarify the rules

We are all for best practice here at Cybher, how about you join us in that stance?

Author:

Sian To is Cybher founder, social media consultant, blogger, mother, workaholic, geek. Passionate about promoting women in tech and best practice in social whilst soaking up as much useful information as she can in the process.

81 Comments Write a comment

  1. As my grandmother used to say: ‘sooner or later you would get found out’. My question is why risk such damage to your reputation?

    Reply

  2. I don’t quite understand why you wouldn’t? There can only be one reason and that is to hoodwink your readers – and why on earth would you treat them with such disrespect?

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    • Our thoughts exactly Tara. You can wrap it up in as many ambiguous words or images as you like but by doing that you are deliberately setting out to mislead your readers for your own financial gain.
      It’s just not on.

      This isn’t just a case or shark like link builders and seo’s trying to pull the wool over fresh, new bloggers eyes either. We are talking about well established, influential bloggers who are well aware of the law but think that they are above it.

      Reply

  3. Often it’s a bit thick to not disclose too. Most people have their twitter account/FB/G+ linked to their blog to autopost updates. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen half a dozen sponsored posts go up with a few hours of each other, only to then spot the 7,8 or 9th one go up with no disclosure at all.

    We’re not stupid you know.

    Reply

  4. I find it hugely annoying to see fellow bloggers fail to disclose comped review products and meals (which I only know were comped because I and other bloggers received the same offers, and of course, made sure we disclosed).

    I’ve seen some try and use the line that traditional print media don’t disclose so why should they, but it’s never a good excuse is it — someone else isn’t following the rules so why should I? Can’t see that excuse working when you’re caught speeding or evading your taxes!

    And I hate the beat about the bush terms too. I don’t accept sponsored posts, where I’m paid to share specific content. But I do accept sample products and accept comped services, and always disclose these clearly.

    Simples.

    Regular readers know I have no problem at all laying out the negatives as well as the positives, for freebies the same as when I pay myself, but not all casual visitors to my site too and honesty is the best policy.

    Reply

  5. Yep – I blogged about this very topic recently, and I’m still getting fed up with the approaches telling me, ‘a small follow link with our very reputable client won’t do your blog any harm at all’

    Insert swear words of your choice here.

    The only area not mentioned in the guidelines is the situation with competitions. It’s obvious you’re being supplied with the product, else you wouldn’t be giving it away. This is often without any benefit for running the competition, except for the warm glow of making readers happy. Where does disclosure stand with this situation?

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  6. I totally agree, and I am very clear on my blog that I will disclose, and I do so very happily. I have nothing to hide, and feel it is totally right and proper to be open and honest – that is the only way to blog.

    However recently I have had the same PR company ask me to remove the “sponsored” notice from two different posts. One post I removed straight away as it had only been online a day or two and therefore have not been paid. The other has already been online three weeks and so I have told them I expect to receive my payment for that one anyway. I am very disappointed with the PR company and their clients and I shan’t work with them again.

    Reply

  7. Right from the off I state that I will only consider doing a sponsored post if I can label it sponsored post. So far I have had no problems but haven’t dealt with that many agencies.

    I would really like this badge on my PR/disclosure page. Is there a code available?

    Reply

  8. Totally agree whether or not it was against the law its good practice to inform readers of the reason behind the post if its product or service based.

    Reply

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